Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The Pagan Origin of the Trinity Doctrine by Thomas Doane 1882
The Pagan Origin of the Trinity Doctrine by Thomas Doane 1882
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"Say not there are three Gods, God is but One God."—(Koran.)
The doctrine of the Trinity is the highest and most mysterious doctrine of the Christian church. It declares that there are three persons in the Godhead or divine nature—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost—and that "these three are one true, eternal God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory, although distinguished by their personal propensities." The most celebrated statement of the doctrine is to be found in the Athanasian creed, which asserts that:
"The Catholic faith is this: That we worship One God as Trinity, and Trinity in Unity—neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance—for there is One person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one; the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal."
As M. Reville remarks:
"The dogma of the Trinity displayed its contradictions with true bravery. The Deity divided into three divine persons, and yet these three persons forming only One God; of these three the first only being self-existent, the two others deriving their existence from the first, and yet these three persons being considered as perfectly equal; each having his special, distinct character, his individual qualities, wanting in the other two, and yet each one of the three being supposed to possess the fullness of perfection—here, it must be confessed, we have the deification of the contradictory."
We shall now see that this very peculiar doctrine of three in one, and one in three, is of heathen origin, and that it must fall with all the other dogmas of the Christian religion.
The number three is sacred in all theories derived from oriental sources. Deity is always a trinity of some kind, or the successive emanations proceeded in threes.
If we turn to India we shall find that one of the most prominent features in the Indian theology is the doctrine of a divine triad, governing all things. This triad is called Tri-murti—from the Sanscrit word tri (three) and murti (form)—and consists of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. It is an inseparable unity, though three in form.
"When the universal and infinite being Brahma—the only really existing entity, wholly without form, and unbound and unaffected by the three Gunas or by qualities of any kind—wished to create for his own entertainment the phenomena of the universe, he assumed the quality of activity and became a male person, as Brahma the creator. Next, in the progress of still further self-evolution, he willed to invest himself with the second quality of goodness, as Vishnu the preserver, and with the third quality of darkness, as Siva the destroyer. This development of the doctrine of triple manifestation (tri-murti), which appears first in the Brahmanized version of the Indian Epics, had already been adumbrated in the Veda in the triple form of fire, and in the triad of gods, Agni, Surya, and Indra; and in other ways."
This divine Tri-murti—says the Brahmans and the sacred books—is indivisible in essence, and indivisible in action; mystery profound! which is explained in the following manner:
Brahma represents the creative principle, the unreflected or unevolved protogoneus state of divinity—the Father.
Vishnu represents the protecting and preserving principle, the evolved or reflected state of divinity—the Son.
Siva is the principle that presides at destruction and re-construction—the Holy Spirit.
The third person was the Destroyer, or, in his good capacity, the Regenerator. The dove was the emblem of the Regenerator. As the spiritus was the passive cause (brooding on the face of the waters) by which all things sprang into life, the dove became the emblem of the Spirit, or Holy Ghost, the third person.
These three gods are the first and the highest manifestations of the Eternal Essence, and are typified by the three letters composing the mystic syllable OM or AUM. They constitute the well known Trimurti or Triad of divine forms which characterizes Hindooism. It is usual to describe these three gods as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, but this gives a very inadequate idea of their complex characters. Nor does the conception of their relationship to each other become clearer when it is ascertained that their functions are constantly interchangeable, and that each may take the place of the other, according to the sentiment expressed by the greatest of Indian poets, Kalidasa (Kumara-sambhava, Griffith, vii. 44):
"In those three persons the One God was shown—
Each first in place, each last—not one alone;
Of Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, each may be
First, second, third, among the blessed three."
A devout person called Attencin, becoming convinced that he should worship but one deity, thus addressed Brahma, Vishnu and Siva:
"O you three Lords; know that I recognize only One God; inform me therefore, which of you is the true divinity, that I may address to him alone my vows and adorations."
The three gods became manifest to him, and replied:
"Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between us; what to you appears such is only by semblance; the Single Being appears under three forms, but he is One."
Sir William Jones says:
"Very respectable natives have assured me, that one or two missionaries have been absurd enough in their zeal for the conversion of the Gentiles, to urge that the Hindoos were even now almost Christians; because their Brahma, Vishnou, and Mahesa (Siva), were no other than the Christian Trinity."
Thomas Maurice, in his "Indian Antiquities," describes a magnificent piece of Indian sculpture, of exquisite workmanship, and of stupendous antiquity, namely:
"A bust composed of three heads, united to one body, adorned with the oldest symbols of the Indian theology, and thus expressly fabricated according to the unanimous confession of the sacred sacerdotal tribe of India, to indicate the Creator, the Preserver, and the Regenerator, of mankind; which establishes the solemn fact, that from the remotest eras, the Indian nations had adored a triune deity."
Fig. No. 34 is a representation of an Indian sculpture, intended to represent the Triune God, evidently similar to the one described above by Mr. Maurice. It is taken from "a very ancient granite" in the museum at the "Indian House," and was dug from the ruins of a temple in the island of Bombay.
The Buddhists, as well as the Brahmans, have had their Trinity from a very early period.
Mr. Faber, in his "Origin of Heathen Idolatry," says:
"Among the Hindoos, we have the Triad of Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva; so, among the votaries of Buddha, we find the self-triplicated Buddha declared to be the same as the Hindoo Trimurti. Among the Buddhist sect of the Jainists, we have the triple Jiva, in whom the Trimurti is similarly declared to be incarnate."
In this Trinity Vajrapani answers to Brahma, or Jehovah, the "All-father," Manjusri is the "deified teacher," the counterpart of Crishna or Jesus, and Avalokitesvara is the "Holy Spirit."
Buddha was believed by his followers to be, not only an incarnation of the deity, but "God himself in human form"—as the followers of Crishna believed him to be—and therefore "three gods in one." This is clearly illustrated by the following address delivered to Buddha by a devotee called Amora:
"Reverence be unto thee, O God, in the form of the God of mercy, the dispeller of pain and trouble, the Lord of all things, the guardian of the universe, the emblem of mercy towards those who serve thee—OM! the possessor of all things in vital form. Thou art Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa; thou art Lord of all the universe. Thou art under the proper form of all things, movable and immovable, the possessor of the whole, and thus I adore thee. I adore thee, who art celebrated by a thousand names, and under various forms; in the shape of Buddha, the god of mercy."
The inhabitants of China and Japan, the majority of whom are Buddhists, worship God in the form of a Trinity. Their name for him (Buddha) is Fo, and in speaking of the Trinity they say: "The three pure, precious or honorable Fo." This triad is represented in their temples by images similar to those found in the pagodas of India, and when they speak of God they say: "Fo is one person, but has three forms."
In a chapel belonging to the monastery of Poo-ta-la, which was found in Manchow-Tartary, was to be seen representations of Fo, in the form of three persons.
Navarette, in his account of China, says:
"This sect (of Fo) has another idol they call Sanpao. It consists of three, equal in all respects. This, which has been represented as an image of the Most Blessed Trinity, is exactly the same with that which is on the high altar of the monastery of the Trinitarians at Madrid. If any Chinese whatsoever saw it, he would say that Sanpao of his country was worshiped in these parts."
And Mr. Faber, in his "Origin of Heathen Idolatry," says:
"Among the Chinese, who worship Buddha under the name of Fo, we find this God mysteriously multiplied into three persons."
The mystic syllable O. M. or A. U. M. is also reverenced by the Chinese and Japanese, as we have found it reverenced by the inhabitants of India.
The followers of Laou-tsze, or Laou-keum-tsze—a celebrated philosopher of China, and deified hero, born 604 B. C.—known as the Taou sect, are also worshipers of a Trinity. It was the leading feature in Laou-keun's system of philosophical theology, that Taou, the eternal reason, produced one; one produced two; two produced three; and three produced all things. This was a sentence which Laou-keun continually repeated, and which Mr. Maurice considers, "a most singular axiom for a heathen philosopher."
The sacred volumes of the Chinese state that:
"The Source and Root of all is One. This self-existent unity necessarily produced a second. The first and second, by their union, produced a third. These Three produced all."
The ancient emperors of China solemnly sacrificed, every three years, to "Him who is One and Three."
The ancient Egyptians worshiped God in the form of a Trinity, which was represented in sculptures on the most ancient of their temples. The celebrated symbol of the wing, the globe, and the serpent, is supposed to have stood for the different attributes of God.
The priests of Memphis, in Egypt, explained this mystery to the novice, by intimating that the premier (first) monad created the dyad, who engendered the triad, and that it is this triad which shines through nature.
Thulis, a great monarch, who at one time reigned over all Egypt, and who was in the habit of consulting the oracle of Serapis, is said to have addressed the oracle in these words:
"Tell me if ever there was before one greater than I, or will ever be one greater than me?"
The oracle answered thus:
"First God, afterward the Word, and with them the Holy Spirit, all these are of the same nature, and make but one whole, of which the power is eternal. Go away quickly, mortal, thou who hast but an uncertain life."
The idea of calling the second person in the Trinity the Logos, or Word is an Egyptian feature, and was engrafted into Christianity many centuries after the time of Christ Jesus. Apollo, who had his tomb at Delphi in Egypt, was called the Word.
Mr. Bonwick, in his "Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought," says:
"Some persons are prepared to admit that the most astonishing development of the old religion of Egypt was in relation to the Logos or Divine Word, by whom all things were made, and who, though from God, was God. It had long been known that Plato, Aristotle, and others before the Christian era, cherished the idea of this Demiurgus; but it was not known till of late that Chaldeans and Egyptians recognized this mysterious principle."
"The Logos or Word was a great mystery (among the Egyptians), in whose sacred books the following passages may be seen: 'I know the mystery of the divine Word;' 'The Word of the Lord of All, which was the maker of it;' 'The Word—this is the first person after himself, uncreated, infinite ruling over all things that were made by him.'"
The Assyrians had Marduk for their Logos; one of their sacred addresses to him reads thus:
"Thou art the powerful one—Thou art the life-giver—Thou also the prosperer—Merciful one among the gods—Eldest son of Hea, who made heaven and earth—Lord of heaven and earth, who an equal has not—Merciful one, who dead to life raises."
The Chaldeans had their Memra or "Word of God," corresponding to the Greek Logos, which designated that being who organized and who still governs the world, and is inferior to God only.
The Logos was with Philoa most interesting subject of discourse, tempting him to wonderful feats of imagination. There is scarcely a personifying or exalting epithet that he did not bestow on the Divine Reason. He described it as a distinct being; called it "a Rock," "The Summit of the Universe," "Before all things," "First-begotten Son of God," "Eternal Bread from Heaven," "Fountain of Wisdom," "Guide to God," "Substitute for God," "Image of God," "Priest," "Creator of the Worlds," "Second God," "Interpreter of God," "Ambassador of God," "Power of God," "King," "Angel," "Man," "Mediator," "Light," "The Beginning," "The East," "The Name of God," "The Intercessor."
This is exactly the Logos of John. It becomes a man, "is made flesh;" appears as an incarnation; in order that the God whom "no man has seen at any time," may be manifested.
The worship of God in the form of a Trinity was to be found among the ancient Greeks. When the priests were about to offer up a sacrifice to the gods, the altar was three times sprinkled by dipping a laurel branch in holy water, and the people assembled around it were three times sprinkled also. Frankincense was taken from the censer with three fingers, and strewed upon the altar three times. This was done because an oracle had declared that all sacred things ought to be in threes, therefore, that number was scrupulously observed in most religious ceremonies.
Orpheus wrote that:
"All things were made by One godhead in three names, and that this god is all things."
This Trinitarian view of the Deity he is said to have brought from Egypt, and the Christian Fathers of the third and fourth centuries claimed that Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Plato—who taught the doctrine of the Trinity—had drawn their theological philosophy from the writings of Orpheus.
The works of Plato were extensively studied by the Church Fathers, one of whom joyfully recognizes in the great teacher, the schoolmaster who, in the fullness of time, was destined to educate the heathen for Christ, as Moses did the Jews.
The celebrated passage: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God," is a fragment of some Pagan treatise on the Platonic philosophy, evidently written by Irenæus. It is quoted by Amelius, a Pagan philosopher, as strictly applicable to the Logos, or Mercury, the Word, apparently as an honorable testimony borne to the Pagan deity by a barbarian—for such is what he calls the writer of John i. 1. His words are:
"This plainly was the Word, by whom all things were made, he being himself eternal, as Heraclitus also would say; and by Jove, the same whom the barbarian affirms to have been in the place and dignity of a principal, and to be with God, and to be God, by whom all things were made, and in whom everything that was made has its life and being."
The Christian Father, Justin Martyr, apologizing for the Christian religion, tells the Emperor Antoninus Pius, that the Pagans need not taunt the Christians for worshiping the Logos, which "was with God, and was God," as they were also guilty of the same act.
"If we (Christians) hold," says he, "some opinions near of kin to the poets and philosophers, in great repute among you, why are we thus unjustly hated?" "There's Mercury, Jove's interpreter, in imitation of the Logos, in worship among you," and "as to the Son of God, called Jesus, should we allow him to be nothing more than man, yet the title of the 'Son of God' is very justifiable, upon the account of his wisdom, considering you have your Mercury, (also called the 'Son of God') in worship under the title of the Word and Messenger of God."
We see, then, that the title "Word" or "Logos," being applied to Jesus, is another piece of Pagan amalgamation with Christianity. It did not receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second century after Christ.
The ancient Pagan Romans worshiped a Trinity. An oracle is said to have declared that there was, "first God, then the Word, and with them the Spirit."
Here we see distinctly enumerated, God, the Logos, and the Spirit or Holy Ghost, in ancient Rome, where the most celebrated temple of this capital—that of Jupiter Capitolinus—was dedicated to three deities, which three deities were honored with joint worship.
The ancient Persians worshiped a Trinity. This trinity consisted of Oromasdes, Mithras, and Ahriman. It was virtually the same as that of the Hindoos: Oromasdes was the Creator, Mithras was the "Son of God," the "Saviour," the "Mediator" or "Intercessor," and Ahriman was the Destroyer. In the oracles of Zoroaster the Persian lawgiver, is to be found the following sentence:
"A Triad of Deity shines forth through the whole world, of which a Monad (an invisible thing) is the head."
Plutarch, "De Iside et Osiride," says:
"Zoroaster is said to have made a threefold distribution of things: to have assigned the first and highest rank to Oromasdes, who, in the Oracles, is called the Father; the lowest to Ahrimanes; and the middle to Mithras; who, in the same Oracles, is called the second Mind."
The Assyrians and Phenicians worshiped a Trinity.
"It is a curious and instructive fact, that the Jews had symbols of the divine Unity in Trinity as well as the Pagans." The Cabbala had its Trinity: "the Ancient, whose name is sanctified, is with three heads, which make but one."
Rabbi Simeon Ben Jochai says:
"Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim: there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet, notwithstanding, they are all One, and joined together in One, and cannot be divided from each other."
According to Dr. Parkhurst:
"The Vandals had a god called Triglaff. One of these was found at Hertungerberg, near Brandenburg (in Prussia). He was represented with three heads. This was apparently the Trinity of Paganism."
The ancient Scandinavians worshiped a triple deity who was yet one god. It consisted of Odin, Thor, and Frey. A triune statue representing this Trinity in Unity was found at Upsal in Sweden. The three principal nations of Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) vied with each other in erecting temples, but none were more famous than the temple at Upsal in Sweden. It glittered on all sides with gold. It seemed to be particularly consecrated to the Three Superior Deities, Odin, Thor and Frey. The statues of these gods were placed in this temple on three thrones, one above the other. Odin was represented holding a sword in his hand: Thor stood at the left hand of Odin, with a crown upon his head, and a scepter in his hand; Frey stood at the left hand of Thor, and was represented of both sexes. Odin was the supreme God, the Al-fader; Thor was the first-begotten son of this god, and Frey was the bestower of fertility, peace and riches. King Gylfi of Sweden is supposed to have gone at one time to Asgard (the abode of the gods), where he beheld three thrones raised one above another, with a man sitting on each of them. Upon his asking what the names of these lords might be, his guide answered: "He who sitteth on the lowest throne is the Lofty One; the second is the equal to the Lofty One; and he who sitteth on the highest throne is called the Third."
The ancient Druids also worshiped: "Ain Treidhe Dia ainm Taulac, Fan, Mollac;" which is to say: "Ain triple God, of name Taulac, Fan, Mollac."
The ancient inhabitants of Siberia worshiped a triune God. In remote ages, wanderers from India directed their eyes northward, and crossing the vast Tartarian deserts, finally settled in Siberia, bringing with them the worship of a triune God. This is clearly shown from the fact stated by Thomas Maurice, that:
"The first Christian missionaries who arrived in those regions, found the people already in possession of that fundamental doctrine of the true religion, which, among others, they came to impress upon their minds, and universally adored an idol fabricated to resemble, as near as possible, a Trinity in Unity."
This triune God consisted of, first "the Creator of all things," second, "the God of Armies," third, "the Spirit of Heavenly Love," and yet these three were but one indivisible God.
The Tartars also worshiped God as a Trinity in Unity. On one of their medals, which is now in the St. Petersburgh Museum, may be seen a representation of the triple God seated on the lotus.
Even in the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean, the supreme deities are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, the latter of which is symbolized as a bird.
The ancient Mexicans and Peruvians had their Trinity. The supreme God of the Mexicans (Tezcatlipoca), who had, as Lord Kingsborough says, "all the attributes and powers which were assigned to Jehovah by the Hebrews," had associated with him two other gods, Huitzlipochtli and Tlaloc; one occupied a place upon his left hand, the other on his right. This was the Trinity of the Mexicans.
When the bishop Don Bartholomew de las Casas proceeded to his bishopric, which was in 1545, he commissioned an ecclesiastic, whose name was Francis Hernandez, who was well acquainted with the language of the Indians (as the natives were called), to visit them, carrying with him a sort of catechism of what he was about to preach. In about one year from the time that Francis Hernandez was sent out, he wrote to Bishop las Casas, stating that:
"The Indians believed in the God who was in heaven; that this God was the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that the Father was named Yzona, the Son Bacab, who was born of a Virgin, and that the Holy Ghost was called Echiah."
The Rev. Father Acosta says, in speaking of the Peruvians:
"It is strange that the devil after his manner hath brought a Trinity into idolatry, for the three images of the Sun called Apomti, Churunti, and Intiquaoqui, signifieth Father and Lord Sun, the Son Sun, and the Brother Sun.
"Being in Chuquisaca, an honorable priest showed me an information, which I had long in my hands, where it was proved that there was a certain oratory, whereat the Indians did worship an idol called Tangatanga, which they said was 'One in Three, and Three in One.' And as this priest stood amazed thereat, I said that the devil by his internal and obstinate pride (whereby he always pretends to make himself God) did steal all that he could from the truth, to employ it in his lying and deceits."
The doctrine was recognized among the Indians of the Californian peninsula. The statue of the principal deity of the New Granadian Indians had "three heads on one body," and was understood to be "three persons with one heart and one will."
The result of our investigations then, is that, for ages before the time of Christ Jesus or Christianity, God was worshiped in the form of a Triad, and that this doctrine was extensively diffused through all nations. That it was established in regions as far distant as China and Mexico, and immemorially acknowledged through the whole extent of Egypt and India. That it flourished with equal vigor among the snowy mountains of Thibet, and the vast deserts of Siberia. That the barbarians of central Europe, the Scandinavians, and the Druids of Britain and Ireland, bent their knee to an idol of a Triune God. What then becomes of "the Ever-Blessed Trinity" of Christianity? It must fall, together with all the rest of its dogmas, and be buried with the Pagan débris.
The learned Thomas Maurice imagined that this mysterious doctrine must have been revealed by God to Adam, or to Noah, or to Abraham, or to somebody else. Notice with what caution he wrote (A. D. 1794) on this subject. He says:
"In the course of the wide range which I have been compelled to take in the field of Asiatic mythology, certain topics have arisen for discussion, equally delicate and perplexing. Among them, in particular, a species of Trinity forms a constant and prominent feature in nearly all the systems of Oriental theology."
After saying, "I venture with a trembling step," and that, "It was not from choice, but from necessity, that I entered thus upon this subject," he concludes:
"This extensive and interesting subject engrosses a considerable portion of this work, and my anxiety to prepare the public mind to receive it, my efforts to elucidate so mysterious a point of theology, induces me to remind the candid reader, that visible traces of this doctrine are discovered, not only in the three principals of the Chaldaic theology; in the Triplasios Mithra of Persia; in the Triad, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, of India—where it was evidently promulgated in the Geeta, fifteen hundred years before the birth of Plato; but in the Numen Triplex of Japan; in the inscription upon the famous medal found in the deserts of Siberia, "To the Triune God," to be seen at this day in the valuable cabinet of the Empress, at St. Petersburgh; in the Tanga-Tanga, or Three in One, of the South Americans; and, finally, without mentioning the vestiges of it in Greece, in the Symbol of the Wing, the Globe, and the Serpent, conspicuous on most of the ancient temples of Upper Egypt."
It was a long time after the followers of Christ Jesus had made him a God, before they ventured to declare that he was "God himself in human form," and, "the second person in the Ever-Blessed Trinity." It was Justin Martyr, a Christian convert from the Platonic school, who, about the middle of the second century, first promulgated the opinion, that Jesus of Nazareth, the "Son of God," was the second principle in the Deity, and the Creator of all material things. He is the earliest writer to whom the opinion can be traced. This knowledge, he does not ascribe to the Scriptures, but to the special favor of God.
The passage in I. John, v. 7, which reads thus: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one," is one of the numerous interpolations which were inserted into the books of the New Testament, many years after these books were written. These passages are retained and circulated as the word of God, or as of equal authority with the rest, though known and admitted by the learned on all hands, to be forgeries, willful and wicked interpolations.
The subtle and profound questions concerning the nature, generation, the distinction, and the quality of the three divine persons of the mysterious triad, or Trinity, were agitated in the philosophical and in the Christian schools of Alexandria in Egypt, but it was not a part of the established Christian faith until as late as A. D. 327, when the question was settled at the Councils of Nice and Constantinople. Up to this time there was no understood and recognized doctrine on this high subject. The Christians were for the most part accustomed to use scriptural expressions in speaking of the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, without defining articulately their relation to one another.
In these trinitarian controversies, which first broke out in Egypt—Egypt, the land of Trinities—the chief point in the discussion was to define the position of "the Son."
There lived in Alexandria a presbyter of the name of Arius, a disappointed candidate for the office of bishop. He took the ground that there was a time when, from the very nature of Sonship, the Son did not exist, and a time at which he commenced to be, asserting that it is the necessary condition of the filial relation that a father must be older than his son. But this assertion evidently denied the co-eternity of the three persons of the Trinity, it suggested a subordination or inequality among them, and indeed implied a time when the Trinity did not exist. Hereupon, the bishop, who had been the successful competitor against Arius, displayed his rhetorical powers in public debates on the question, and, the strife spreading, the Jews and Pagans, who formed a very large portion of the population of Alexandria, amused themselves with theatrical representations of the contest on the stage—the point of their burlesques being the equality of age of the Father and the Son. Such was the violence the controversy at length assumed, that the matter had to be referred to the emperor (Constantine).
At first he looked upon the dispute as altogether frivolous, and perhaps in truth inclined to the assertion of Arius, that in the very nature of the thing a father must be older than his son. So great, however, was the pressure laid upon him, that he was eventually compelled to summon the Council of Nicea, which, to dispose of the conflict, set forth a formulary or creed, and attached to it this anathema:
"The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes those who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, and that, before he was begotten, he was not, and that, he was made out of nothing, or out of another substance or essence, and is created, or changeable, or alterable."
Constantine at once enforced the decision of the council by the civil power.
Even after this "subtle and profound question" had been settled at the Council of Nice, those who settled it did not understand the question they had settled. Athanasius, who was a member of the first general council, and who is said to have written the creed which bears his name, which asserts that the true Catholic faith is this:
"That we worship One God as Trinity, and Trinity in Unity—neither confounding the persons nor dividing the substance—for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost, but the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one, the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal,"
—also confessed that whenever he forced his understanding to meditate on the divinity of the Logos, his toilsome and unavailing efforts recoiled on themselves; that the more he thought the less he comprehended; and the more he wrote the less capable was he of expressing his thoughts.
We see, then, that this great question was settled, not by the consent of all members of the council, but simply because the majority were in favor of it. Jesus of Nazareth was "God himself in human form;" "one of the persons of the Ever-Blessed Trinity," who "had no beginning, and will have no end," because the majority of the members of this council said so. Hereafter—so it was decreed—all must believe it; if not, they must not oppose it, but forever hold their peace.
The Emperor Theodosius declared his resolution of expelling from all the churches of his dominions, the bishops and their clergy who should obstinately refuse to believe, or at least to profess, the doctrine of the Council of Nice. His lieutenant, Sapor, was armed with the ample powers of a general law, a special commission, and a military force; and this ecclesiastical resolution was conducted with so much discretion and vigor, that the religion of the Emperor was established.
Here we have the historical fact, that bishops of the Christian church, and their clergy, were forced to profess their belief in the doctrine of the Trinity.
We also find that:
"This orthodox Emperor (Theodosius) considered every heretic (as he called those who did not believe as he and his ecclesiastics professed) as a rebel against the supreme powers of heaven and of earth (he being one of the supreme powers of earth) and each of the powers might exercise their peculiar jurisdiction over the soul and body of the guilty.
"The decrees of the Council of Constantinople had ascertained the true standard of the faith, and the ecclesiastics, who governed the conscience of Theodosius, suggested the most effectual methods of persecution. In the space of fifteen years he promulgated at least fifteen severe edicts against the heretics, more especially against those who rejected the doctrine of the Trinity."
Thus we see one of the many reasons why the "most holy Christian religion" spread so rapidly.
Arius—who declared that in the nature of things a father must be older than his son—was excommunicated for his so-called heretical notions concerning the Trinity. His followers, who were very numerous, were called Arians. Their writings, if they had been permitted to exist, would undoubtedly contain the lamentable story of the persecution which affected the church under the reign of the impious Emperor Theodosius.